A lot of people sense that they will have trouble conceiving, but I actually did not have that innate fear. Despite all of the signs that pointed toward a more difficult fertility journey (lack of regular periods, short luteal phase, etc.), I was quite honestly nothing but optimistic as my husband Bryce and I started trying to conceive.
Maybe my optimism was blind, dumb, or naive; maybe it’s just my personality to see the silver lining, or maybe it was some weird (false) sense that an easy fertility journey was “owed” to me by the world and God because of the various hardships I had been through in my life. How ludicrous, I now think, was that last thought? Nothing was owed to me. But despite how our journey ultimately played out, I’m still glad I went into it passionate and optimistic.
I was born with a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos. I was inherently (too) flexible, and I had to have 11 surgeries growing up due to EDS. I tell you this so you can see why I (wrongly) thought I “deserved” an easy fertility journey. I recall saying, “I just have this good feeling that we’ll get pregnant quickly because this will be the one thing my body does right.” Much to my dismay, that was not the case. I just didn’t know it yet.
A few months after we started trying, Bryce and I saw our first very faint line on a pregnancy test. We were elated! I honestly don’t know if that happiness could be matched, because it was so pure, authentic, and free of fear. We couldn’t wait to watch the line get darker. I honestly didn’t even think of any other possibility, but the next morning the line was lighter and my basal body temperature had dropped. A couple of days later, my period arrived and the second line was gone. We had experienced a “chemical pregnancy.” We were let down and sad, but my optimism was still intact. We kept moving forward.
I am a physical therapist, so by nature, I see a problem and look for a solution. I have always been analytical but also trusting in God. I had already done a lot of research on PCOS, short luteal phases, and low progesterone. The nurse practitioner at my OBGYN’s office and NAPRO doctor, who I saw before and after the chemical pregnancy, tested my hormones and discovered that I did have low progesterone along with other hormonal imbalances. I was referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist right away, which I am truly grateful for now. My OBGYN told me there was no reason to wait, because, without regular periods and regular ovulation, we wouldn’t even have a chance. The next month after the chemical pregnancy, we officially started our journey at the fertility clinic.
We started with all of the testing, which revealed that I was a carrier for a genetic issue. While my husband didn’t carry the same gene, it did lead to follow-up testing, and as a result, more waiting. Waiting was always hard for me: waiting for my period, waiting for results, waiting for explanations. Luckily, it all turned out okay and we got the go-ahead to start treatments. Our RE recommended going straight to IUI due to my history of PCOS and my husband’s low morphology, but I still was hell-bent on doing timed intercourse. No success.
After a stint in the emergency room due to multiple hemorrhagic cysts and more testing, we finally agreed to move onto IUIs. I would always tell my nurse, “I think this month is it!” And she would kindly smile and say, “That’s good that you’re always so positive, but maybe be cautiously optimistic instead.” Cautiously optimistic: that wasn’t in my nature. Right or wrong, I couldn’t help my optimism, even if it led to more heartbreak.
For our first IUI, I walked into the room and saw a calendar that said “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.” I had always loved that quote and felt it was a sign. We waited 10 days, and then I tested at home while Bryce was still asleep. It was positive! I had no doubts that this was it: our rainbow baby. Our beta hCG confirmed the pregnancy, and two days later, the number had doubled. Things looked (and felt) fantastic.
At 5.5 weeks, I saw the pregnancy on an ultrasound, alone due to Covid rules. Then, unfortunately, at 6.5 weeks, they couldn’t detect a heartbeat. Meanwhile, my hCG was still rising, and I had no signs of loss, but at 7.5 weeks, it was confirmed that I was miscarrying. Since it was considered a “missed miscarriage,” I had to have a D&C. My hCG was still rising because the sac kept growing, not realizing the baby had died. Once again, my optimism had been blind. Our baby, the rainbow baby I never even thought twice about losing, had passed.
This was now our second pregnancy loss, and I was told the news alone. I wish my husband could have been with me to see our baby. I wish he could have been holding my hand when they confirmed our loss, or when I woke up in the surgical center crying after the D&C knowing I was no longer pregnant, not by choice. Not having my husband physically with me due to Covid rules made tough times even tougher, but his love and endless support made things bearable.
We found out soon after that our baby had been a boy. A boy I dreamed of being just like his daddy. A boy we lost. We also found out that that baby had a very large deletion in one chromosome. We grieved that baby, and I still think of him often. However, for me personally, I knew God had that baby in His protection and that He still had a plan for our family.
My optimism eventually returned, but I never imagined this being our path to growing our family. I naively thought love (and sex!) would be enough. Never in a million years did I imagine all of the testing, diagnoses, losses, medications, and procedures. But I also never imagined giving up hope. So we didn’t. We finally moved on to IVF.
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After all of the shots, bloodwork, ultrasounds, and tears, we ultimately ended up with 6 healthy embryos and were thrilled. We did our frozen embryo transfer and found out on November 1st, 2020, at home together, that it had worked! Bryce and I were pregnant for the third time, and with optimism, I hoped it would finally be our first earthside baby. We chose to wait and find out later during a gender reveal that it was a boy.
Although I had a complicated pregnancy which included hyperemesis, a subchorionic hematoma, placenta previa, gestational diabetes, and cholestasis, it didn’t stop me from feeling unrelenting optimism and confidence in this baby and in God. I went on to deliver my son, Brody, early in the 37th week of pregnancy due to cholestasis. He’s our miracle, our double rainbow baby.
Nothing on our journey to parenthood went according to plan; but while my optimism may have been naive at times, I’m still glad I had it. Even though my positive thoughts didn’t always lead to positive outcomes, I’m happy to have held on to hope and faith through our trials and tribulations. Finally, our son is here and he is perfect.
I know now that an easy journey was never owed to me, but I couldn’t be more grateful for how it all turned out. We may have struggled and cried many times over the past two years until the day Brody arrived, but Brody was what my optimism was holding out hope for all along.
Brianna Carri lives in New Jersey with her husband Bryce and their double rainbow baby, Brody.